“I can play really terrible human beings and I seem to have a quality that people can, if not necessarily forgive me those sins, at least cut me some slack.” Ron Eldard
A former Golden Gloves boxer, Ron Eldard became familiar to television audiences with his standout role as Ray 'Shep' Shepard (1995-1996), the love interest of Julianna Margulies' character, on the hit medical drama “ER.“ An actor since the late '80s, Eldard found his career revitalized with roles in such films as “Sleepers” (1996), “Mystery, Alaska” (1999), “Black Hawk Down” (2001), “Ghost Ship” (2002), “House of Sand and Fog” (2003) and “Freedomland” (2006). He will star in an upcoming thriller film titled “Already Dead,” alongside Patrick Kilpatrick.
Eldard, who was named one of the top 10 performers in 1999 by Entertainment Weekly, has also been active on stage. He has performed on Broadway in critically acclaimed productions of “On the Waterfront,” “Bash: Latterday Plays” and “Death of a Salesman.” The latter two were filmed for Showtime productions. He recently replaced Tony winner Brian F. O'Byrne as Father Flynn, a priest accused of sexually harassing a young student, in John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer Award-winning Broadway play, "Doubt," in January 2006.
On a more personal note, the 5' 10" performer dated his “ER” and “Ghost Ship” (2002) co-star actress Julianna Margulies (born June 8, 1966) from 1991 to 2003. They first met in an acting class in 1991.
“Men are freaks. We really are. Maybe I'm just speaking for myself.” Ron Eldard
Childhood and Family:
Born in Long Island on February 20, 1965, Ronald Jason Eldard was raised in Queens, New York. The second youngest of seven children, Eldard has two brothers: Raymond (older) and Roger (younger), and four older sisters: Laurie, Linda, Lana and Lisa. When he was very young, his mother passed away, forcing the siblings to live with different relatives. During the difficult times, 13-year-old Eldard even donned a chicken costume to sell drumsticks at Chicken Galore, a fast-food restaurant in Queens.
“My high school years I was working probably 30 hours a week. I'd work all weekends, three or four nights a week. I got home at 4 and worked till 11. That was fine. I spent my time acting.” Ron Eldard
Eldard studied briefly at the SUNY conservatory in Purchase, New York, and went on to study drama at the prestigious New York High School for Performing Arts where he was able to bench press 312. Realizing his remarkable strength, Eldard began a boxing career and finishing runner up in New York State's Golden Glove boxing contest. He still remains physically active today. Eldard also attended HB Studios in Greenwich Village. He is good friends with “X-Files” star David Duchovny.
House of Sand and Fog
Following his graduation from New York's renowned High School of the Performing Arts, Ron Eldard's passion for drama was ignited. He understudied Matthew Broderick in a Broadway production of "Biloxi Blues," only to be unceremoniously fired by playwright Neil Simon in the final understudy run-through. He made his Off-Broadway debut with a starring role as the groom Anthony Angelo Nunzia in "Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding" in 1988 and represented Gleason's Gym as a light heavyweight in the Golden Gloves Competition at Madison Square Garden, advancing to the finals but losing to Floyd Patterson's adopted son. Meanwhile, he also did a string of general jobs, including working in a deli, cleaning offices in Manhattan and lasting a day at a dog kennel.
“I remember before I got my first film they asked me to be the manager at this deli I was at. I was very young and it was like $600 a week and lot of that would be off the books, which is what you kind of did. And I said, 'No,' and my family said, 'Are you crazy?' That was a huge amount of money, especially because I was just a kid. But I just thought, 'If I'm going to be a deli guy, I'm going to own a deli and it's going to be the best deli in New York, the best deli on the East Coast. People will come from everywhere to go to my deli.' So I was very ambitious and a hard worker.” Ron Eldard
Eldard made his television debut appearing as Blade on ABC’s long-running soap opera “One Life to Live” in 1989 and made his feature debut in that same year's comedy film, “True Love.” In the romantic comedy film directed by Nancy Savoca, Eldard co-starred with Annabella Sciorra, playing a working class Italian-American couple who plan for their wedding. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1989 Sundance Film Festival.
Following his stunning feature debut, Eldard returned to stage starring on Off-Broadway as Servy in "Servy-n-Bernice 4Ever" (1991). On the big screen, he competed for the love of Phoebe Cates' character in Ate de Jong's questionably funny fantasy-comedy film “Drop Dead Fred” (1991) and played a bit part as the officer who stops the car driven by a blind man (played by Al Pacino) in Martin Brest's Oscar-winning film, “Scent of a Woman” (1992). The film was adapted from the novel “Il Buio E Il Miele” (“Darkness and Honey”) by Giovanni Arpino and from the 1974 screenplay for the movie “Profumo Di Donna” by Ruggero Maccari and Dino Risi.
TV viewers could catch Eldard making his TV series debut, playing a playboy rookie cop, in the short-lived ABC sitcom "Arresting Behavior" and making his TV-movie debut in “Jumpin' Joe” (ABC). He also co-starred as an absurd detective in the Fox short-lived comedy series "Bakersfield, P.D." (1993-1994).
From 1995 to 1996, Eldard played the recurring role of Ray 'Shep' Shepard, a dashing, but tortured, paramedic who becomes the love interest of real-life companion Julianna Margulies, on NBC's long-running, Emmy-winning medical drama "ER." During that time, he also co-starred with Cameron Diaz in Stacy Title's dark comedy and satirical thriller “The Last Supper” (1995) and portrayed Terry Malloy in the failed Broadway adaptation of "On the Waterfront."
While starring as the irresponsible and sloppy Kevin Murphy in the American remake of the British sitcom "Men Behaving Badly" (1996-1997), Eldard delivered an effective turn as the abusive stepfather of a young girl (played by Jena Malone) in Anjelica Huston's directorial debut, an adaptation of Dorothy Allison's novel, “Bastard Out of Carolina” (1996). Afterward, he supported Kevin Bacon, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Brad Pitt in Barry Levinson's dramatic movie based on Lorenzo Carcaterra's novel of the same name, “Sleepers” (1996).
The rest of the 1990s saw Eldard as a murderer who becomes obsessed with the life of a pizza delivery boy in the Gen-X comedy thriller “Delivered,” portray an astronaut in Mimi Leder's sci-fi disaster film “Deep Impact,” starring Elijah Wood, Téa Leoni, Morgan Freeman, Leelee Sobieski, Vanessa Redgrave and Robert Duvall, and star as Private David Manning, a reluctant hero, in HBO's brutal, engrossing World War II film “When Trumpets Fade” (all three in 1998). He also portrayed a hockey player in Jay Roach's sport drama “Mystery, Alaska” (1999; starring Russell Crowe) and co-starred with Courteney Cox in Ron Moler's crime drama/thriller “The Runner” (also 1999).
On stage, Eldard acted in the Off-Broadway production "Bash," which was written by Neil LaBute and also featured Calista Flockhart and Paul Rudd. Eldard also succeeded Kevin Anderson as Biff Loman in the award-winning Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's 1949 play, "Death of a Salesman" (August 1999) and later reprised the role in L.A. and in the 2000 Golden Globe-winning Showtime production.
Entering the new millennium, Eldard added to his acting resume a role in Ridley Scott's adaptation of Mark Bowden's book, “Black Hawk Down” (2001; starring Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor and Tom Sizemore), co-starred with real-life companion Julianna Margulies in Steve Beck's horror movie “Ghost Ship” (2002) and played the lead role in Fisher Stevens' adaptation of Patrick Breen romantic comedy play, “Just a Kiss” (2002). He was also the original voice of the caller in the 2002 movie “Phone Booth” starring Colin Farrell, but was later replaced by Keifer Sutherland during re-shoots.
Next, Eldard co-starred as a married policeman who has an affair with Jennifer Connelly's character in Vadim Perelman's take on Andre Dubus III's novel, “House of Sand and Fog” (2003), and played blind police detective Jim Dunbar on the ABC drama "Blind Justice" (2005), which was canceled after only thirteen episodes. Afterward, he was cast alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore in “Freedomland,” a drama directed by Joe Roth based on Richard Price's acclaimed novel of the same name. He was also reunited with Paul Rudd in Katherine Dieckmann's drama comedy film “Diggers” (both in 2006).
Eldard also continues his stage work. He replaced Tony winner Brian F. O'Byrne as Father Flynn, a priest accused of sexually harassing a young student, in John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer Award-winning Broadway play "Doubt" in January 2006.
As for his upcoming film work, Eldard has completed Joe Otting's thriller movie titled “Already Dead,” alongside Patrick Kilpatrick, and a made-for-TV movie titled “Demons,” alongside Harold Perrineau.
“I feel blessed that I am able to play really dark guys in a business where they usually want you to play the same character over and over. Poor Michael Rapaport will be playing white homeboys till the day he dies. That's not the kind of career I want.” Ron Eldard